TEA Connect Blog

08 February 2019

Education, creativity and inspiration: Thea Case Studies Day through the eyes of co-chairs Roberta Perry and Pat MacKay

Co-chairs Roberta Perry and Pat MacKay talk about the 2019 Themed Entertainent Association (TEA) Thea Case Studies Day, aka TEA Summit Day Two, an illuminating showcase of the recipients being honored this year with TEA Thea Awards, providing essential education and networking among peers in the global visitor attractions industry. #TEAsummit #TEAtheas


April 11-13: Big weekend for the industry and TEA

Thea Case Studies Day is the second day of the two-day TEA Summit conference (April 11-12, 2019), immediately followed by the prestigious TEA Thea Awards Gala presented by Chimelong (April 13). Together, the TEA Summit and TEA Thea Awards Gala make up TEA's biggest weekend of events, held at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. (Delegates can register for one or both days of the Summit, and the Gala is a separate ticket.)


Tied to the TEA Thea Awards

It all revolves around the annual TEA Thea Awards. Theas Case Studies Day (April 12, 2019) is a showcase of the current slate of TEA Thea Awards recipients - SEE LIST AND DESCRIPTIONS

Intel's Shooting Star drone system will be part
of the Thea Case Studies Day showcase. Intel is
being honored with a Thea Award for breakthrough technology.
The above photo, of a 500-drone, Independence Day celebration
at Travis Air Force Base in 2018 shows the choreographed
capabilities of the system. (U.S. Air Force photo by
Airman 1st Class Christian Conrad)

Since being founded in 1994, the TEA Thea Awards have been celebrating and honoring some of the very best recent projects, people and technological accomplishments within our unique industry, around the world - in theme parks, attractions, museums, immersive experiences and more. 

In the interview below, Roberta Perry and Pat MacKay share some history and perspective on Thea Case Studies Day. Roberta Perry of ETI is a Past President of TEA, and also holds the distinction of having been TEA's first female president. Pat MacKay of OnesandZerosMedia and her career honors include being a recipient of the Peter Chernack TEA Distinguished Service Award. Perry and MacKay are both longtime leader/volunteers within TEA and both have spent many years participating in the TEA Thea Awards Committee, and as TEA Summit organizers.



SlideWheel at Chimelong Water Park in Guanghzhou, China is one of numerous outstanding
achievements in themed entertainment that will be honored with a 2019 TEA Thea Award
and showcased at the 2019 TEA Thea Case Studies Day. Awarded projects span the globe
and include visitor attractions, museums, theme parks, technology breakthroughs and connected immersion.
Read more about the 2019 TEA Thea Award recipients.


Q&A with Roberta Perry & Pat MacKay

Roberta Perry with
TEA COO Jennie Nevin

How long have you two been part of organizing the TEA Summit? 

Roberta Perry: Off and on for quite a few years! We used to organize the entire Summit - both days - but those responsibilities were split up about five years ago as the event had grown in size, scope and duration. Kelly Ryner of Thinkwell (among others) was a co-chair for a few years with me before Pat jumped in. [Click here to read about Summit Day One, co-chaired by Christine Kerr and Melissa Ruminot, April 11, 2019.]

Pat MacKay: One day at lunch I casually asked Roberta if she and Kelly needed any help with the Summit. Little did I know that Kelly’s duties at Thinkwell had expanded and she was moving on. So Roberta's answer was: “Absolutely!” I was grateful to have tons of help from Roberta and wise words from Kelly.  


Pat Mackay holds the symbol of
a 2018 honor:
Knight of Illumination
Lifetime Achievement

Tell us about the vision behind Thea Case Studies Day.

Perry: One of the founding visions for the TEA was to educate our members and clients in project creation and execution. When looking at the Theas we realized there was much value in having the nominees present case studies as a way to share project experience.

MacKay: Although I didn’t have an “official” role in making it happen, as a longtime member of the Thea Awards Nominating Committee I always advocated for something to make the experience more meaningful for the recipients as well as for the attendees at the Gala. We all have something to learn from each and every project.


How do the Thea Case Studies affect our global business community?

Disney creative executive Joe Rohde
presents at the 2018 TEA Thea Case Studies Day

MacKay: It is truly inspirational:  A room full of creative people who are learning from their peers. Even though I’ve sat in on the Nominations deliberations and discussion and spent hours reviewing the material...each and every presentation has gems of wisdom, humor and creativity that really bring the project alive. I love it when some of the best in the business declare “That really got my creative juices flowing! Great day.”

Perry: Thea Case Studies Day assists our global industry through education, creativity and inspiration. In addition that day offers an opportunity to network with the best and brightest in our industry. In my opinion, Thea Case Studies Day has helped our industry worldwide offer our guests more creative, immersive, and engaging experiences no matter what industry vertical. For the client or end user we give them the education and inspiration to make better creative and business decisions and thus better ROI. 


Tell us about your own individual backgrounds in the industry and your work with TEA and the Thea Awards. 

At Thea Case Studies 2018: Co-Chair Roberta Perry,
current Thea Committee Chair Lisa Passamonte-Green,
past Thea Committee Chair Adam Bezark

Perry: Brian Edwards and I started ETI 34 years ago...just prior to the formation of the TEA. I was at the first meeting that Monty Lunde held at the Burbank Hilton to discuss forming the TEA [TEA was officially founded in 1991]. We believed in the vision and became charter members of the organization. Both of us are Past Presidents of the TEA and continue to support the organization in many ways. I have been a member of the Thea Committee, on and off, since the awards began [the first Thea Award Gala was in 1994]. 



Basilisk, a dark ride at Legendia park in Poland,
is one of the 2019 Thea Award recipients
and will be showcased at Thea Case Studies Day.
Read more about the 2019 TEA Thea Award recipients.

MacKay: I’ve been writing about and following what is now-known as the Themed Entertainment business since the mid-1970s. Theatre Crafts magazine/TCI, Lighting Dimensions and the LDI conference and trade show [founded by Pat MacKay] always included Las Vegas, Cruise Ships, Theme Parks, etc. in their definition of entertainment design. Back then Las Vegas was still feathered showgirls but with lots of interesting stages, effects, and waterfalls. (Cruise ship entertainment, on the other hand, was still the equivalent of working in a church basement – it’s come a long way!)

Universal's Volcano Bay, a 2019 TEA Thea recipient,
will be showcased at Thea Case Studies Day.
(Photo XDAM-UO.com; used with permission)

And we began tracking theme parks with the opening of Epcot and another special issue on all of the live show entertainment at various venues. And of course I was a very early member of the TEA. When I sold the media company I was lucky to have lots of friends in the theme park business who found new challenges for me that would take advantage of the eclectic information, ideas, people and processes that I had been covering for the 25 previous years. It’s been fun! It turned out that many of my theme park colleagues had actually grown up reading, learning, and being inspired by the magazines I published and the workshops we programmed, so being part of TEA was being part of the industry I already knew.

Brian Morrow of
BMorrow Productions
will moderate the
Theme Parks segment

Who else is on your team?

Perry: Pat and I have recruited awesome new moderators to assist us this year: Brian Morrow, of BMorrow Productions will be moderating the theme park and attractions session. Shawn McCoy of JRA will be moderating the Museums session. And TEA Founder and Past President Monty Lunde of Technifex will moderate the Technical segment (which features Intel this year). I will be moderating the Connected Immersion group session and Pat will be moderating the Live Show group session. In addition, Thea Committee Chair Lisa Passamonte-Green of Visual Terrain will be moderating a "How to nominate a project for a Thea Award" panel.


Shawn McCoy of JRA
will moderate the
Museums segment

MacKay: It’s going to be fun...there’s some extremely cool stuff programmed and we also have some surprises in store!


Theas Case Studies Day (April 12, 2019) is a showcase of the current slate of TEA Thea Awards recipients - SEE LIST AND DESCRIPTIONS  - PURCHASE TICKETS/MORE INFO


What is the format of Thea Case Studies Day?

Perry: The format encourages discussion between the award recipients and the audience members. In a nutshell it is TED Talks meets Q&A!

TEA founder Monty Lunde
of Technifex will moderate
the Technical segment

Here are the main aspects:

  • We are grouping presentation recipients by award category (theme parks, museums, connected immersion, attractions and live shows.)
  • Each group will be on stage at the same time with a moderator who will introduce the speakers (name, title, company, award) and lead the Q&A
  • Each award recipient will have 18 - 20 minutes - including media - to present their project experience:
  1. The Evel Knievel Museum (Topeka KS, USA)
    will receive a 2019 TEA Thea Award and a 
    spotlight at Thea Case Studies Day.
    Read more about the 2019 TEA Thea Award recipients.
    An overview of the final product
  2. A review of 1 - 2 memorable milestones in the development process
  3. Lessons learned
  4. What would you do differently if you had to do it all over again
  5. What is your best memory of the project
  6. After all group recipients have spoken the moderator will conduct a 15-minute Q&A session between the recipients and the audience.


Justice League™: Battle for Metropolis at
Six Flags Magic Mountain will receive a 2019
TEA Thea Award. Learn about the making of this 
unique project at Thea Case Studies Day.

Please share some memories from past Thea Case Studies Days.

Perry: My best memory of past Thea Case Studies Days is when Diane Disney came representing the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. She was so very apprehensive before her presentation, that I was nervous for her.... but once she got on stage she came alive, the nerves dropped away and she engaged the audience in a way I will never forget....you could hear a pin drop in that room! A very special moment!

"The Legend of Camel Bells" in X'ian, China
is a 2019 TEA Thea Award recipient. Learn about
its creation at Thea Case Studies Day. 
Read more about the 2019 TEA Thea Award recipients.

MacKay: It’s always the skin-of-our-teeth live time moments that stick with me. Wait - what happened to those two presenters, this is their time slot and they are not in the building? And next up is a guy who is out picking up his tuxedo for the Gala tomorrow night. Or hey, this team of presenters who is up in 30 minutes hasn’t even landed at LAX yet….But that’s the producer in me.  

For sheer joy (and I say this all the time) I could listen to any of Joe Rohde’s presentations to start my day, every day.


Why is it important to attend in person? What can delegates look forward to?

MacKay: Nothing beats the chance to be there. Ask questions. Meet people. Explore the ideas presented with colleagues.

Perry: In-person meetings boost collaboration and creativity through the ability to share ideas. It allows people to build meaningful connections with industry professionals. Personally, I learn so much from the case studies, but it is the time and discussions with colleagues that gives this day FIVE STARS!


Theas Case Studies Day (April 12, 2019) is a showcase of the current slate of TEA Thea Awards recipients.

Many thanks to our TEA Annual Sponsors!

Global Partners:

Global Sponsors:


Posted by Judith Rubin



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